The Worst Hard Time

The Worst Hard Time

by

Timothy Egan

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Worst Hard Time can help.
A migrant who became stranded with his family in No Man’s Land due to his horses starving during the trip south. They were migrating from Animas, Colorado to Littlefield, Texas—a town near Amarillo, Texas. The Whites arrived in Dalhart, Texas on February 26, 1926 and decided to settle there, becoming nesters. White first worked as a sharecropper. He believed that excessive plowing had caused the incessant dust storms that devastated the plains. In the 1930s, he was featured in the documentary, The Plow That Broke the Plains.

Bam White Quotes in The Worst Hard Time

The The Worst Hard Time quotes below are all either spoken by Bam White or refer to Bam White. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the First Mariner edition of The Worst Hard Time published in 2006.
Chapter 6 Quotes

The land hardened. Rivers that had been full in spring trickled down to a string line of water and then disappeared. That September was the warmest yet in the still-young century. Bam White scanned the sky for a “sun dog,” his term for a halo that foretold of rain; he saw nothing through the heat of July, August, and September. He noticed how the horses were lethargic, trying to conserve energy. Usually, when the animals bucked or stirred, it meant a storm on the way. They had been passive for some time now, in a summer when the rains left and did not come back for nearly eight years.

Related Characters: Bam White
Related Symbols: Wheat
Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Worst Hard Time LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Worst Hard Time PDF

Bam White Character Timeline in The Worst Hard Time

The timeline below shows where the character Bam White appears in The Worst Hard Time. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: The Wanderer
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
...from the high desert chill of Las Animas, Colorado to Littlefield, Texas, south of Amarillo.” Bam White was a ranch hand who went to Texas to find work, either managing cattle... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
The White family arrived at the XIT ranch—a place that Bam White had heard stories about all his life. It was part of the vast grassland... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...to their own free-wheeling hedonism. By 1912, all cattle-ranching had ceased on the XIT. When Bam White arrived with his family, “only 450,000 acres were unplowed of the original three-million-acre XIT... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
Bam White toured the town. Near the railroad switch tower there was a two-story sanitarium—the only... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
During conversations with locals, Bam found out that Dick Coon “owned Dalhart.” Coon owned nearly every establishment in Dalhart, including... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
When Bam returned to his family, he found his horse dead. Bam took it as a sign... (full context)
Chapter 3: Creating Dalhart
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
Bam White lived in “a shack outside of Dalhart” where he worked as a sharecropper in... (full context)
Chapter 5: Last of the Great Plowup
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
In 1930, Bam White and his family still lived in the shack he had rented shortly after they... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Due to his dark skin and work-worn hands, Bam did not always feel welcome in Dalhart, where people wore “new clothes and [dined] fine... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
With enough money saved, Bam finally bought a house. It was a “half-dugout.” The roof was made of tarpaper, and... (full context)
Chapter 6: First Wave
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
Then, the land hardened. The grain toasted in the heat. Bam White looked in the sky, scanning it for a “sun dog,” a phrase he used... (full context)
Chapter 7: A Darkening
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...“like coarse animal hair.” It moved up the Texas Panhandle, toward Oklahoma, Colorado, and Kansas. Bam White thought that he was looking at a moving mountain range, despite the Llano Estacado... (full context)
Chapter 14: Showdown in Dalhart
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
Bam White continued to sell skunk hides and worked odd jobs. Otherwise, he spent much of... (full context)
Chapter 16: Black Sunday
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...Lizzie had been talking about leaving Dalhart. She was crumbling emotionally, but they could not leave—Bam was too old. Meanwhile Melt had just found out from an aunt about his indigenous... (full context)
Chapter 19: Witnesses
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...he reached Dalhart, he asked if anyone knew an old cowboy, and people gave him Bam White’s name. White was perfect for the part. Lorentz offered to pay him twenty-five dollars—two... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...was shown alongside It Happened One Night. In Dalhart, it opened at the Mission Theater. Bam White took his family, and it was the first time Melt had ever seen a... (full context)
Chapter 23: The Last Men
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
People in Dalhart shunned Bam White for being in a film that made it seem as though the nesters were... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...corn and some grass on a section of ground outside of their small, two-room house. Bam planted alfalfa so that he would have hay for his horses. The rain came in... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
In early summer, there were a few storms. Bam White’s small patch in the front of his house grew into “a blanket of green... (full context)
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
Lizzie White feared starvation, as grasshoppers ate everything Bam had planted. The family got government clothes and food. The winter was harsh and Bam... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...was a lonely place in his last years. He missed Dick Coon, John McCarty, and Bam White. He did not know the new people in town, who were mostly workers from... (full context)